National Highways £300,000 Overpayment From the Public Purse

National Highways £300,000 Overpayment From the Public Purse

National Highways’ failure to audit a £440,000 bill from Amey has cost the public over £300,000!

The costs arose from a collision; a vehicle struck Higham Road Bridge, Northampton which passes over a railway line.  Emergency attendance was required and the damaged wall needed reinstating to protect road and rail users.  But the bridge was never likley to be repaired – it had been earmarked for replacement. Yet despite this, the Authority met Amey’s bill of £440,000 in full, seemingly no questions asked!

Subsequently, the vehicle insurer instructed us to review the costs.  We raised numerous concerns – repeating our belief that the Authority lacks understanding of ‘temporary vehicle restraint system’ (temp’ VRS) – read more here.

Following our presentation, the Authority’s lawyers, Government Legal Department, appointed an independent auditor, GMQS.  Their report was scathing of the conduct:

‘ … we are of the opinion that £276,359.77 has not been spent on additional traffic management and
we are not currently able to state with any confidence what actually has.’

Subsequent adjustments were made:

  1. £40,382 deducted from traffic management costs of £117,341
  2. £4,176 removed from the temp’ VRS charge of £8,676
  3. £15,000 shaved off of Amey’s own charges of £30,126.35
  4. £17,471.02, the total ‘risk allowance for inclement weather, removed
  5. £232,291.82 of traffic management deleted in full, the auditor writing: ‘This cost would not have been required and in fact was not required whilst it remained in its damaged state prior to the larger scheme commencing. GMQS has been presented with a breakdown of expenditure paid for traffic management that we do not believe was in connection with this incident.’

Claim: £440,294.69

Settlement: £130,973.85

£309,321 of taxpayer’s money squandered … plus the costs of the audit AFTER the event!

National Highways position is ‘Amey did not overcharge for the management of roadworks and the figure paid to them was incurred and paid in accordance with the contract.’  Read more here.

This is not an isolated incident.